Brewster High School has just unveiled a Mindful Moment Room that is designed to give students and staff members a place to maintain or restore balance in their day. The brainchild of health teacher Rebecca Archer, the space provides a way for anyone feeling anxious, stressed or conflicted to hit a virtual “pause button."
Accessible to everyone—not just staff or special club members—the space is designed to be used as a place to stop, focus, and re-center yourself before continuing with your day. “In a lot of ways, it can be used for prevention before we get too overwhelmed,” Archer explained. “Mindfulness creates space so that we can make more thoughtful decisions instead of knee jerk reactions.”
To achieve that, the space was thoughtfully put together. The lighting is dim and the vibe is calm and inviting. Realistic electric candles flicker and soft music plays. Around the room you can find things like a singing bowl and chimes, puzzles, coloring paper and sudoku puzzles, yoga mats and more.
In addition, student and staff Mindfulness Ambassadors were trained to help visitors to the room by offering mindfulness techniques and stress management tools for peaceful conflict resolution, improved focus, greater control and awareness of thoughts and emotions, improved self-regulation, and relaxation.
Forty-three students signed up to participate in the Mindfulness Ambassador Training, which began with a breathing exercise and guided mindfulness meditation. If there were any doubts about how seriously the students might take the training, they were immediately washed away during the breathing exercise. The room was so quiet you could hear the ticking clock over Archer’s soft voice.
During training, Archer introduced Ambassadors to the Mindful Moment Room training manual, which is kept in the room for reference at all times. The goal of the Ambassadors, according to Archer is to “model mindfulness and create time and space so that we can analyze, be aware, and move forward in a way that doesn’t lead to regret.”
To do that, Ambassadors first welcome people into the space, which Archer aims to have open all day. Students and staff can come in on their own or teachers can send distressed or disruptive students for assistance with emotional self-regulation. Once signed in, Ambassadors do a check-in to see how the person is feeling. Next, they lead the person through a quick breathing exercise and give them a tour of the room so that the person can explore the space while reconnecting with themselves. After about 10 minutes, they check out.
“Students can go into the room and know it’s a place to get settled and reset,” said Brewster schools superintendent Dr. Valerie Henning-Piedmonte.
Archer hopes the space provides a way to build in time for self-care. “We don’t have it built into our lifestyle,” she said. “This helps with that. You don’t need a whole day, you just need to take a few moments.”